Month: August 2015

Leaking Gender

As I’ve said before, if I had stronger anchors to the male gender, I could see my self being content with occasional cross-dressing. But at this point my friendships and social life are pretty much with people who know me as some sort of feminine gender. More through happenstance than intent, since performing takes up a lot of my time and it’s how end up meeting people.

At work there’s definitely leakage.

Since I dress for (and usually win) the annual Halloween contest as a female character every year, there’s definitely outness in that regard.

I’ve been wearing nail polish off-and-on for a while — the putative explanation being that I had back-to-back shows, and didn’t want to have to redo them. But for the past couple weeks I’ve been wearing polish full-time, albeit a subtle “professional woman’s” champagne color, and no one’s said anything.

After that “real names” protest at Facebook, I can to work en femme — with the putative explanation that since I was behind for the day because of taking the morning off, it was faster to just change outfits than to remove make-up, showers, etc.

Then there’s a couple co-workers who are Facebook friends, and given what I post there, they definitely know I’m trans.

I’m sure there’s personality differences now, e.g. I’m more expressive, but I actually don’t feel I present that differently. Especially in a work environment. Although FWIW, the things I had to work on a few years ago to get promoted were the critiques stereotypically aimed at women (e.g. needing to be more forceful in presenting my opinions, being a bit too consensus seeking, etc.)

On a different note, I confess the thought of experimenting with hormones crosses my mind periodically, and earlier this before I started this post I even tried OTC estrogen supplements for a month or so — and yeah, I know self-medicating is a really stupid thing to do, and so I stopped. Plus they didn’t seem to make any difference (which I now know is because the dosage is comparitively low). But it was one of those “maybe that’ll give me a clue where I’m at” things, since a lot of people report feeling “right” when they go on hormones.

I think part of it is that doing burlesque decreases my social dysphoria but has a tendency to increase my body dysphoria. OTOH, like my overall trans-ness, the body dysphoria waxes and wanes.

But Things Have Changed

So I was going through my dresser drawers tonight, and ran across one of my favorite pairs of men’s shorts — and realized I haven’t worn them all summer.

I don’t know when I’ll wear them next, since I’m not presenting as male on the weekends, and weeknight evening around the house I usually wear some form of women’s clothing (a cami and yoga pants, etc.).

That realization is messing with my head a bit tonight. Yes, this is what I want, and I still don’t feel a strong need to transition. But yeah, things have changed.

Evolution Not Transition

A transitioned friend reacted to my last post by saying she thinks that if I choose to go full time it won’t be much of a transition, it’ll be more of an evolution.

That makes sense. Though work obviously is the big transition state, since I work a 9-to-5 (9-to-late) job instead of consulting where I could gradually shift as I brought in new clients.

She also couldn’t understand how I managed to do the switching between gender things — she only had to do it for a couple months and it drove her bat-shit crazy.

Well, herein lies the difference.

It has its complications, and yes, I’ve moved toward the far side of the middle path, but a decade in, it still seems to be working for me.

OTOH, as I’ve said before, part of the drift is probably due to not having strong ties to the masculine side of my life. But I can see how — if my life had taken a different course — I’d be more fulfilled on that side. I.e. I’d still be trans, but presenting as a woman would be more of an occasional thing.

Likewise, I don’t have a problem being seen as a man at work — albeit an unconventional one, since lots of people know I perform (and a small number know that it’s not just for the stage). Yes, there’s definitely benefits that come from male privilege in that regard. (Interestingly, the things I needed to work on to get promoted awhile back were the sort of critiques usually directed at women, e.g. too consensus-oriented, need to assert myself more, etc.)

Nor do I have a problem at the coffee place I stop at most mornings, where during the week they see me as man and as a woman on the weekends. A number of them do know that I identify as bigender. Maybe part of it is that I know that short of not going there on the weekends, there’s no way to keep my different presentation separate.

I think where I’m uncomfortable going back to been seen as a man probably has a lot to do with the changed relationship dynamic thing. From the burly world,* to my acupuncturist. Even the Chinese restaurant, since things have changed with one of the regular waitress since I started going there as a woman. I can’t quite put my finger on it, since obviously a pretty limited interaction, but there is difference (for the better) I’m picking up.

* Though in the burly world, there’s instances where people see me when I’m presenting as a man, e.g. tonight I had to pick up a costume that a friend was repairing. While I’d still prefer to be presenting as a woman 100% of the time in those circles, it’s less troubling because those folks still see me as a woman even when I’m in man-drag. Probably because I’d firmly established myself as a woman long before they ever saw me presenting as a man.

Then there’s odd spaces like my nail salon, where I was one of the girls long before I went there presenting as a woman. The owner and some of her long-time employees have known for years that I cross-dress. But what’s more interesting is the way I usually get treated by other customers, even ones I’ve never met before. Again it’s intangibles, but there’s a difference from the way they react to/interact with the occasional guy who comes in for pedicure.

It’s complicated…

I’m Seeing a Pattern

A friend who transitioned recently talked about touching during conversation as being as one of the ways she’s treated differently by women these days.

Had my own personal experience over the weekend. I’d seen my acupuncturist and afterwards she had a bit free time, so we were talking about her husband who’s freaking out over his 50th birthday. Every so often, she’d reach out and touch my hand, which was on the counter of the reception desk, in a “we’re connecting” kind of way.

Then Sunday, I was having brunch and there was a woman and her pre-school age daughter, who was making faces in a rather adorable way because she was bored waiting for their food. I was watching her in bemusement, needless to say the daughter realized she had an audience, which then caused mom to turn around. But instead of the side-eye I would’ve gotten if I’d been presenting as a man, I just said I was being greatly amused, and mom and I ended up having a nice chat.

OTOH, at the acupuncturist, I thought that was the last time I’d be going as Marlena since my acupuncturist was supposed to stop working Saturday, which meant I’d have to go in during the week. The thought of that really was bothering me a lot. Fortunately, it turns out my acupuncturist will continue working one Saturday a month after all, so crisis averted.

But as I mentioned previously, I’m noticing this is a pattern — in places where I’ve established myself as a woman, I really don’t want to go back there as a man.

Then there was cheerleading from my drag mother, who said I seem much happier as a woman, and that when I’ve visited her as a man, I always look like I’m about to cry. Which isn’t really true — she projects all sort of a stuff — so I didn’t pay it a lot of mind.

OTOH, when I was telling her that I didn’t hate being a man, she replied that she didn’t either — but she loved being a woman, which is why she transitioned.

I dunno… as I think I said in my first post in this thread, I’m definitely getting the feeling I’d be comfortable living as a woman — albeit the workplace is a big unknown. But there’s not a drive pushing me to go through the effort of transition. OTOH, more of my life now (weekends, burly, the kink scene) is when I’m presenting as a woman.

Authentic Enough?

One unexpected side-effect of dual-living (going on 10 weeks now) is I’ve been having some pangs of “am I authentic enough.” I don’t have a problem being a male-bodied woman. When I’ve been out on the weekends, I’ve been accepted as woman. I did some dating with someone who saw me as a woman. And yet…

There’s a whole experiences that I didn’t grow up with — even if girlhood experiences are far from universal. But probably more so is the acute realization that I can move back into the world as an apparent man, with the male privilege that brings. Which OTOH is really useful reality check on my privilege as a man. OTOH, it’s bringing with it this under-current that I’m not really “real” enough as a woman.

The other thing I’m discovering is that in places where I’ve established myself as a woman, it’s uncomfortable to return as a man. My acupuncturist stopped working Saturdays, so I’m going to have to schlep to the other side of the Bay on a weekday, which is a pain in itself. But it also means having to go as a guy, and I’m really not looking forward to that.

It’s happened before. When I went to BurlyCon, I spent two days in the company of 600 women. The final day I ended up presenting as a man, because I was going straight to the airport after the conference, and it was absolutely miserable.

Even on a smaller scale, its an issue — there’s a local restaurant that I didn’t go to this week because I didn’t want to go back as a man. Since they’d seen me previously for several years as a man, they obviously know that I’m not a cisgender woman. But still….

Guess it may mean more weeknight change-overs after work.

OTOH, being a man at work still doesn’t particularly bother me, even if I would be more comfortable being a woman there. Likewise with the board meeting I attended last night for an organization I belong to.

It still feels like a middle path of dual living works best, but damn it can get complicated….